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26th Apr 2024

Why Heineken is the perfect beer to pair food with

Charlie Herbert


We took a trip to Amsterdam to find out how Heineken delivers its perfectly balanced taste

Whilst many of you reading this will be familiar with pairing wines with food, a lot of you probably wouldn’t think that beers can match up with a meal.

You’d be wrong.

Others of you may think ‘beer is beer’ and ‘it all tastes the same.’

You’d also be wrong.

Heineken is so perfectly balanced that it goes with just about any food you can imagine, and if you won’t take our word for it, how about that of a critically-acclaimed chef?

We took a trip to Amsterdam, the home of Heineken, to learn all about what sets the famous beer apart from the rest.

A tour of the Heineken Experience – set up in the original brewery in the heart of Amsterdam – revealed how Heineken’s perfectly balanced taste is all down to its Five-Star Brewing Principles.

These include the use of quality pure malt and 100 per cent natural ingredients. But along with this, Heineken has its own special joker in the pack – its famous A-yeast.

Developed by Dr Hartog Elion back in the late 19th century, Heineken still uses this same yeast strain to brew their beer today, giving it the perfectly balanced flavour.

But its not just the ingredients. The method is key as well. Horizontal fermentation tanks are used to create a large surface area as sugar is converted into alcohol and CO2. The horizontal tanks alleviate the problem of beer at the bottom of the tank being under too much pressure, helping deliver the balance and consistency the beer is known for.

Heineken Master Brewer, Willem van Waesberghe, has been using ‘The Beer Level’ – a ‘highly scientific’ tool filled with Heineken® beer – to ensure all bars are perfectly flat to deliver an impeccably balanced surface for the perfect pint presentation (Heineken)

When you put all of these factors together, you get a beer with a crisp, brilliantly balanced taste.

Willem van Waesberghe is one of Heineken’s Master Brewers, and explained how the beer strikes the perfect balance between being crisp and refreshing but still with slight bitterness that many of us love about a beer.

This means two things. First, it’s a beer for any occasion. Whether it’s your first drink of the evening or a pint to finish your day, it will be just as satisfying.

Whether its Heineken Original, the slightly less bitter Heineken Silver or the non-alcoholic Heineken 0.0, you can guarantee your day will go from ‘argh’ to ‘ahhh’ when you have that first sip.

Secondly, it’s the perfect beer to pair with food. To prove this, Heineken collaborated with renowned chef, Lee Tiernan of London’s ‘F.K.A. Black Axe Mangal’ to highlight how its balanced taste creates the perfect accompaniment to today’s modern-day dining.

From smoked cod roe and Pringles to numbing mushroom mapo tofu, fish sauce braised lamb shoulder to deep fried apple pie with butterscotch sauce, Tiernan’s ‘End of Shift Feed’ demonstrated how a cold Heineken really is the perfect beer for pairing with food.

The meal was inspired by the food he and his staff loved to eat with a beer after a long shift at his restaurant, and he said the menu was “a lot of fun to put together.”

He said: “I’m not a big wine guy, and when they [Heineken] proposed the end-of-shift kind of vibe it made sense to me immediately, so I jumped at the chance.”

Explaining the inspiration behind the dishes, he continued: “I chose dishes that I know work well with beer. At the end of a shift, you’ve been on your feet all day, you’ve been concentrating, you’re hot, you’re knackered, and you need to decompress.

“I like to do that with a nice snack, preferably something fatty, spicy and salty, and a beer. And it was as simple as that for me, I knew I could put it all together and not have to pretend.”

And for Tiernan, there couldn’t have been a more perfect pairing for the food than a Heineken.

Acclaimed chef Lee Tiernan, of London’s ‘F.K.A. Black Axe Mangal’, put together a meal designed to pair perfectly with a cold Heineken.

“Heineken, for me, it’s like a faithful companion, it always hits the spot,” Tiernan said. “And it goes brilliantly with a lot of the food I do.”

One of the menu highlights was the mapo tofu, and Tiernan agreed, saying it was one of his favourites.

“The mapo tofu and an ice-cold beer is perfect for me, it’s f***ing perfect,” he said. “The spice, the numbing, it just hits the spot.

“And then you add the fatty lamb, and that cuts all that out, and then the beer cuts through that. I’m not a big wine guy so I feel like I am somewhat qualified to contribute to an event like this and actually have confidence in what I’m doing.”

But if you don’t have the finest ingredients and a restaurant kitchen to hand, fear not – there’s still plenty you can pair with a cold bottle of Heineken.

Tiernan suggested pizza, Chines and an Indian were all takeaways that would work perfectly with a beer.

“We had some mayo chips with a beer the other day, and that was f***ing great,” he recalled. “Again, it’s all about salty, fat, spicy – they’re the three key things for me that pop out. Like a pepperoni pizza, it’s fatty, it’s spicy, it’s a little bit greasy, and the beer just cuts through it all.”

So, whether it’s fine dining, home cooking or even a takeaway, Heineken’s the perfect companion to your foodie experiences.

Related links:

Steve Jobs had a ‘beer test’ he used for Apple job interviews